I don't even
know where to begin. First of all, thank you so much for your concern,
prayers, and keeping us in your thoughts. It's been a rough several
5, 2005 (One week after Katrina) After spending Sunday night (of
Labor Day weekend) in Gulf Breeze, Florida, we made our way to Bay St.
Louis on Monday. Evidence of Katrina was seen on I-10, beginning just
east of Mobile and then it got progressively worse; trees were downed,
billboards knocked over, cars that had run out of fuel parked on the
shoulder. Passing Biloxi, we spotted big boats high and dry, in the
middle of nowhere. The damage was more severe the further west we headed,
and when we got off at Exit 13, Bay St. Louis, the reality hit us like
a ton of bricks.
stations that we had done business with were totally obliterated.
to be strip malls looked like skeletons; their windows had all been
blown down and whatever was inside--furniture, office equipment, etc.--was
nowhere to be seen. What used to be car lots looked as though a bulldozer
had come through and pushed all the cars to one side.
We turned onto Central Avenue and tried to get to our neighborhood,
but we had the camper on the truck and couldn't get under the telephone
lines that were precariously draped over the road. So we drove around
town, trying to scope out a place where we could "set up camp"
for a few days. We noticed several tents in the post office parking
lot, and that's where we spent Monday night. Families without anything
left became our new neighbors, and we shared some of our supplies, like
gasoline (a REAL premium item) and cold beer (even more premium!). For
this they were so grateful. We would have shared more, like our food,
but everyone only took what they absolutely needed. Nothing more.
Several displaced geese
meandered around the parking lot, not knowing where to go. No one seemed
to know where they came from, or how they got there. As daylight transitioned
to dusk and the 6 o'clock curfew loomed, people worked hard to gather
and protect what little they had left. Reports of looters abounded and
those of us in the post office had an unspoken understanding that it
was "all for one and one for all." Once our new neighbors
realized that we had a big dog and that we were armed, their tents moved
closer to our truck camper.
of our new friends, seemed to be really dialed into not just what supplies
were needed and not coming in, but WHO really needed them. Command posts
had been set up at the Wal-Mart and K-Mart shopping centers, but if
people couldn't get to them either by foot or automobile, they were
SOL. Sharon knew of a makeshift relief site down Hwy. 90. She had heard
that these poor souls weren't getting ANYthing from the outside, and
asked if there was something we could do.
Prior to coming down here,
I had talked to a friend in Knoxville, and remembered that she was gathering
up a bunch of supplies and heading for Mississippi. I immediately called
her on our satellite phone (cell phones weren't working) and asked WHERE
in Mississippi was she headed. She answered "Lumberton," which
was about 80 miles north of Bay St. Louis. Would she consider coming
down with some special supplies for us? Of course, her answer was YES.
She would arrive sometime Wednesday
Sharon gave me a list of
things the people down the highway desperately needed. Items like deodorant,
toothbrushes and toothpaste, sunscreen, bug repellent, vitamins, diapers,
Wet Wipes, tents, sleeping bags, charcoal grills and pots and pan, and
the list went on and on, not to mention food and water. I called Shari
back with the list and thanked her in advance for anything she could
Electricity was not restored yet, so it was pitch black out there on
Highway 90, the main road going through Bay St. Louis and Waveway. A
curfew of 6 p.m. - daylight was in force. Several times Jim (our dog)
would get up and start growling or barking; Dave peered out and saw
people "wandering around" with the intention of doing who-knows-what?
It was, after all, about 3 a.m. Neither of us slept very well.
Tuesday, September 6. Rumor was that post office was going to be bringing
in trailers and try to restore business, so we were asked to move. So
today we moved across the street to a church parking lot. But we liked
the post office parking lot better; the old oak trees provided the nicest
shade and relief from the heat of the day.
Over in our new digs we were able to disconnect our camper from the
truck, and now that we had the mobility, we made our way to our neighborhood.
Although we already knew that our house no longer existed, it is still
a shock to see NOTHING THERE.
Katrina (view from the street)
Katrina (view from the lot across our canal)
Well, the concrete pilings
remained, but not much else. And a smelly, yucky muck covered the streets,
the lawns, everything. We were surprised to see little damage done to
our dock; the pilings and the bulkhead were intact and I think we were
missing only 3 or 4 boards. All of the houses at the first half of the
street were totally gone; the rest of the houses were severely damaged
and absolutely not livable. The lot at the end of the street that we
bought earlier this year had someone else's house on it; whose we don't
know. The two palm trees whose seeds were blessed by the Pope in 1983
were still standing though, seemingly very healthy.
Search and rescue teams went from one demolished house to the next,
spray painting symbols on the outside indicating that they had been
there to inspect, and whether or not they had come upon any survivors.
It's a very eerie scene to take in, especially on a hot day when a certain
smell permeates the air. All of them were from somewhere else, like
North Carolina, Texas, Florida and Georgia, and we thanked them for
coming to help out. God knows Mississippi needs it.
Our neighborhood was a
wreck. What used to be a street with houses on both sides was completely
This has not been bull-dozed
,this is from the storm surge. We heard that sustained winds of 150
miles per hour pummeled Bay St. Louis for at least 10 hours. The storm
surge exceeded 30 feet.
the task of locating our trawler and Kate's sailboat. Our friends, Mike
and Diana, who also had a home in our neighborhood, had already been
down here and told us where to find them, but getting there through
the muck was a challenge. One of the search and rescue members asked
if he could give us a lift.
Miss Kate first; she was sitting high and dry on a lot about 4 canals
over. She did not appear to have sustained a lot of damage (at least
her windows weren't broken out and her hull seemed to be in one piece),
but until the surveyors look her over, who knows?
on the other hand, was a different story. She was wedged in between
two houses, the cabin on the port side complete demolished and the port
side aft pretty torn up.
Wednesday, September 7. Our friends from Knoxville arrived,
not only with a trailer-full of supplies, but with the announcement
that a television crew was enroute with the sole purpose of focusing
on Bay St. Louis. It seems that the media is fixated on New Orleans,
Biloxi and Gulfport, but there is little mention of our little town
or Waveland. This was the first time I really felt Hope. Not for Dave
and me, but for all of the other people left homeless, jobless, and
helpless by Hurricane Katrina.
We found the makeshift
relief site that Sharon, our friend from the post office parking lot,
told us about. Turns out it was a grocery store that had been in business
only a few weeks. After the storm hit, the owners, Beverly and John
Davis, just opened their doors to their neighbors and let them have
whatever they wanted since there was no relief in sight. (The storm
hit on Monday; when relief had not shown by Thursday, the police in
Bay St. Louis broke into the Winn-Dixie and allowed people to get food
and water. Hearing that was so unimaginable! Why wasn't help here???)
Now it's Friday, September
9, and we are in a campground in Robertsdale, Alabama. Dave and I don't
really know what we're going to do next. We're just taking things day
by day. Right now we're just exhausted; mentally, emotionally and physically.
But, all things considered, we're fine. Thank God we have the camper
and a reliable vehicle. We feel like we can go anywhere, and yet we
don't know WHERE to go. Isn't that an ironic situation for gypsies like
We will keep ya'll posted.
Thanks to everyone who have offered us a place to stay
had we known
it was this easy to spend a week here and a week there, we might not
have plunked down the money to buy a house :
Maria & Dave